Mary Baldwin University will laud student research May 7 with its 10th annual Capstone Festival, which will give outstanding seniors an opportunity to present their scholarly and artistic works to the wider campus and the public.
Nominated by members of the faculty, students participating in the Capstone Festival represent many disciplines and share their research or creative work through poster presentations, presentations with multimedia support, delivered papers, and multimedia presentations. Students may be nominated for their senior projects, honors projects, or special sponsored projects.
Even though the student works are wide ranging, event organizers on occasion can spot trends among scholarly entries.
“I always find it impressive — and fun — to see how the thematic patterns emerge from across the disciplines,” said Lydia Petersson, director of Sponsored Programs and Undergraduate Research. “For instance, this year we have one panel that will deal with sex trafficking, compulsory sterilization, 19th-century workhouses, and 21st-century nursing homes. All of the presentations somehow have to do with how institutions, social expectations, and financial incentives shape the lives of marginalized people, but they are coming at this theme from a range of historical, political, and administrative perspectives.
“I always feel that at the Capstone Festival we get to see what is really going on at Mary Baldwin — it’s the reflection of the creativity and intellectual commitments of our students and faculty alike.”
The event highlights Mary Baldwin’s emphasis on undergraduate research, as every student must present a senior thesis before graduating. The new tradition of the modern-day Capstone Festival pays homage to the earliest days of the Augusta Female Seminary, when, “all final examinations were held in public and members of the board of trustees and the townspeople attended to view students parse sentences, do intricate math problems, and recite soliloquies,” according to To Live in Time; The Sesquicentennial History of Mary Baldwin University 1842-1992.